Let Us Discuss...The GRIND

:warning: Long exploratory, analytical post. Contains Wall of Text! Ye have been warned. :warning:

Fellow Exiles, I would like to open the doors for discussion on a subject which is not infrequently mentioned, but which frustrates often. The elephant which occupies over half of the space inside the room. The runaway levels of grind in our game. Am I the only one here who has begun to feel that the levels of grind here have been getting out of hand!?

You know back in when the Producer’s Letter was release on 18th December 2020 announcing that the Isle of Siptah would be receiving an overhaul, and NPC camps would be added to the map, the following criticisms were revealed in Funcom’s feedack data:

As the data shows, the level of grind was ranked as the second highest area of concern. And yet it seems to have gone on unanswered, or potentially even worsened. Yes, I know that this is in relation to Thralls, but I suspect that this is also directed as a wider concern. I am quite confident that almost everyone here could name at least one area or item in which they feel that the current level of grind has become excessive (and I encourage you all to share them). So I will open with a some pet examples to get us started:

Epic Armors

Time for some numbers. *Note-while the grind on all three armor types is quite hefty, I decided to draw upon heavy armor for this example, as it epitomises and best illustrates the point. The level of grind to produce a single set of Exiles Epic armor is frankly off the charts. Padding especially is a key culprit in this. For example, at default values, to make a single piece of Perfected Heavy Padding we need 31 hardened leather, 10 elephant hide and 5 twine. Each one of those pieces of hardened leather requires 5 leather, 2 thick leather, 2 alchemical base and 5 oil; and we need 31 times each of those numerical values just to make one piece of perfected padding! So lets add it all up shall we?

To make one set of Exiles Epic heavy armor we need:

PERFECTED HEAVY PADDING (×5)
-155 pieces of hardened leather (comprised of: 775 of leather, 310 of thick leather, 310 of alchemical base & 775 of oil), 50 elephant hide and 25 twine(!)

Oh but that is just the padding. Most heavy armors then typically need…

THE ARMOR ITSELF
125 hardened steel bars (head 25, torso 25, legs 25, hands 25, feet 25), 175 star metal bars (head 35, torso 35, legs 35, hands, feet 35) or another 125 hardened leather*. Then in the case of some armors we may require extras on the side. For example, 25 steel reinforcements, 10 horns, yada yada yada.

Now when we add all of these components up, the cost of just one (1) set of Exiles Epic armor is mind boggling, as is the amount of grind which goes into producing it! Sure there are other examples of uneccessary amount grind/cost. For examples: Improved Bee Hive (150 insulated wood, 25 twine), Improved Stove (200 hardened brick, 50 steel reinforcements), iron skinning knife (30 iron bar, 5 branches, with up to 23 iron bars to repair it!). Anyone who has seen an iron ingot in real life could tell us how ludicrous it is to need 30 of them to produce one knife. Then there is everyones pet grumble for grind; Recipes which can only be obtained through RNGesus and the absurd amount of grind it requires.

This leads me to the final part of this post, rationale and analysis. And the question on my mind here, which is ‘why’. Why is the rate of grind as high as it is? Fun? Excessive grind is not fun, it is like doing chores. We play games to adventure and have fun, not do chores. Longevity? Sure it artificially extends time, but it also breeds frustration and tedium, and ultimately disincentivizes many players. Balance? These costs are just a drop in the ocean for larger and well established clans, and an absolute fortune for Online Solo players and new players. Realism? Again, find me one knife in the world which needs 30 metal bars to manufacture. The aforementioned levels of grind also make it harder for people to experiment with different types of armor and impedes variety and loadout delving. Finally, independently of whether individuals agree or disagree with any or all of these assessments, I would still postulate that the point remains steadfast; that the levels of grind are just too high.

**So I ask you: Is the level of in game grind currently in effect measured and proportionate, or does it detract from the game experience, and is it tantamount to pointless busy work? Grind needs a reason to exist, and not just for the sake of itself. Of course I acknoeledge that higher tier recipes should require more materials. And that some level of grind should exist and is rewarding. But I would also argue the current levels of grind are are just too high, and take away from the fun factor of this amazing game. Therefore, I would like to humbly request that Funcom dial back some of the levels of grind in Conan Exiles, and the cost of some of the recipes.

Fellow Exiles I would love to hear your thoughts and your feedback on this matter.

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Specifically speaking on armor, are these values accounting for the cost reduction with high tier tables? It does make a considerable difference. My personal experience is leather has never been an issue. I run out of oil or alch base for more frequently. I’ve met no shortage of newish players who I gave an “aha” moment pointing them towards the garrison bench. My main complaint here is craft time truly is restrictive, it takes far too long to turn out any combination of delved gear. Get excited about your first set of truly epic gear? Too bad, go watch a feature length film.

It’s certainly more grindy, and thats done for the same reason its done in any game, to take up your time. There doesn’t seem to be great balance in CE between poverty and abundance. I either have a lot of something or none. But in the end, this game kind of turns into accumulation. I, without really trying, have some 4000 hardened leather sitting in a chest with a few sets of my preferred armor already waiting. This is a game stage issue, but I do think it could be relaxed a bit.

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For even more context, the Producer’s Letter you linked to was a direct result of Isle of Siptah early access feedback. So it was definitely about thralls, because the only way to get good thralls was through high-level surges, which required a hell of a lot of work and were very tough to handle when playing solo.

One of the consequences of that feedback was the addition of NPC camps and the breaking of the Siptah-specific tertiary gameplay loop (vault → maelstrom → surge). Another consequence was the crafting revamp, which introduced the new crafting stations.

This is very relevant for the rest of your post, as we’ll see shortly.

From this, I can infer that you’re looking at the Improved Armorer’s Bench, instead of the Garrison Armorer’s Bench. When using Garrison Armorer’s Bench, the values are 21 hardened leather, 7 elephant hide, and 3 twine.

That means that the total cost for the epic armor padding should be 105 hardened leather, 35 elephant hide, and 15 twine.

Of these, hardened leather is arguably the biggest source of the grind, at least in Exiled Lands, because it requires you to either 1) run around looting chests with gold and silver, or 2) play the “Whack-a-Bearer Slot Machine”, or 3) farm gold and silver like a peasant :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

On the Isle of Siptah, gold and silver are much easier to get, so the grind lessens even further.

Again, these numbers are way off. The correct values are 60 hardened steel bars, and then other materials as necessary. For example, Khitan Imperial armor requires 60 hardened steel bars, 10 steel reinforcements, and 1 horn, whereas Stygian Soldier armor requires 60 hardened steel bars, and 85 star metal bars.

Is this grindy? Different people will have different opinions. Personally, I find it less grindy than T3 building materials, and even those are much less grindy than the endless and pervasive slot machine mechanics surrounding legendary items and recipes. But more on that later.

As long as you’re asking about farming, the answer is simple: balance. Balance is an obvious concept when talking about PVP, because the cost of outfitting your thralls has a direct effect on how hard it is to set up your base defense. But it’s not just a PVP concept. There’s balance in PVE, too. Costs control how quickly and easily you can do things, which is why a T3 foundation doesn’t simply cost 1 stone, 1 consolidant, 1 shaped wood, and 1 steel reinforcement.

Again, the following is just my personal opinion, but I don’t think crafting costs are too high. It might seem that way while you’re still learning how to farm and craft, but soon enough you hit the spot where your pipeline is optimized and different farming activities feed into each other.

In the end, the longer I keep playing, the more my chests fill up with overflow materials, so I honestly can’t agree that the grind is unreasonably high for an experienced player. As for the newcomers to the game, well, learning how to farm and craft better is one of the aspects of a survival game. And as far as survival games go, Conan Exiles is rather easy.

The question of why the grind is so high becomes much more interesting when we start talking about things other than farming: getting thralls, legendaries, and recipes. On Siptah, this is especially egregious, because the vast majority of recipes are gained through slot machine mechanics.

Unfortunately, it’s an interesting question without a satisfactory answer. Again, there are only theories. Mine is that it’s cheaper to make something a random drop than to provide the necessary content that replaces the “difficulty” of the grind with real challenge. I know this might sound uncharitable, but it’s the simplest explanation and it’s not exactly something that’s endemic to Funcom: it’s a widespread practice in the industry.

I’m curious, why don’t you do it yourself? I know you play in single-player, so why not adjust either the crafting cost multiplier or the harvesting multiplier or both?

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I agree with 99% of what you said, but as I play CE almost exclusively, I would say that getting gold and silver is very easy.
The five chests in the snake temple in the unnamed city are full of gold and silver, and if you have gold Rocknoses, they also produce it abundantly.
There are also plenty of chests scattered around CE that have gold/silver in them.
I will not go into detail of where to find them, but suffice to say, gold and silver is as easy to find in CE as Siptah.

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Yeah, that’s why I mentioned the chests. It’s not hard to find, it’s just more of a chore.

In Exiled Lands, you gotta run around looting chests and hope that they spawn gold in sufficient quantities. Some of those chests are protected by relatively badass NPCs. Others require climbing or diving. Some are inside dungeons. Eventually you accrue enough overflow that you don’t have to worry anymore, but at the beginning it can be a bit boring and frustrating :slight_smile:

On Siptah, you just go to one of the spots and hit some nodes with your pick(axe).

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True, and after a few years playing it seems very easy to myself and some others where to find gold. After you have a few thousand gold/silver bars/coins/dust accumulated it does get to be a “meh” point.

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It certainly does make a difference, but I was calculating from the baseline line values, as counting thralls, benches, etc is a cost reduction variable, and it felt disingenuous to use these as the default values in my argument. And for Exile Epic sets, the improved version is the baseline, as Epic sets cannot be crafted on the regular benches no? Sure I could have added the highest and lowest potentials, but I felt that the post was already LONG enough now. :wink: If any other members should wish to do a comparison post here then they are most welcome to do so.

I wil agree with that, especially for certain items. For example, while I am led to believe that the crafting times for them have recently been adjusted, the current crafting times for healing items on ps4 (consoles more generally?) are pretty bad.

This is difficult to know how to respond to, as there are a lot of subjective variables at play here. Im not sure if you play in a clan, use default or customized settings, how much time you get to play each week, and just how much you like to farm and produce.

Perhaps I am just not playing ‘optimally’, but I have honestly NEVER had a chest full of hardened leather in my entire play history, and I commenced playing at launch time on console. But then once I hit end game I only really tend to store maybe around say ~3-6 stacks of a particular commodity, then replenish it when needed. Having chest(s) full of a single item, for me personally, means having dozens upons dozens of chests laying around my base cluttering it up. Which is also probably even more of a performance drain on the ps4. But then we all approach the game differently too.

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For me the only bad GRIND in the game is in relation to RNG. There are some things that suck to collect or make yeah, but I feel like they have done a good job over time creating multiple solutions to bottlenecks (except figgin bark…), This means you get to use your location and your experience to find ways to optimize. That I think is good design.

Whether certain gear is too material intensive or not, I don’t know. That really falls to group size and time in game, how you balance that for all styles I couldn’t guess.

I don’t hate RNG grind per se, I hate feeling no control on RNG. Feeding thralls to manipulate RNG is good design IMO. Its RNG, but I get some agency - I am participating in the outcome so the process is more enjoyable. If I cannot influence the outcome in any way its EXTREMELY hard to want to grind in that system for long. I wish FC would invest in more systems that let me interact with RNG.

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I don’t find the game overly grindy for the most part. There are only two things that I find grindy

  1. RNG chest or archive drops

  2. stone farming. I don’t actually mind miming stone, but you need such insane amounts of it that my brain goes on autopilot and I feel like I’m going to fall asleep

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I understand your point, antithetically can I suggest that isn’t the “agency” of the grind there to keep us from being able to hoard too much stuff too quickly?

There has to be a mutual relationship between time and accumulating items.

If for example, it cost one item to make another higher tier item then it won’t be too long before we have too much high tier items in storage.

For me it’s about the logic of gathering and placing limitations on it. We would get bored otherwise.

Cheers.

I understand the chores it brings to cradt high tier gears, I don’t like the RNG based grind, namely farming legendary chests or killing bosses 88888 times to thet that drop.

But I actually like gathering materials. When I run around kill enemies, I always loot chest/dead bodies and when I reach the level I can learn the exiles epic, I already have the ingredients to craft LITERALLY thousands of hardened leather and layered silk, etc.
I always end up throwing out the excess materials. Same with star metal :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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I know before I start that in the somewhere in the way, I will go of topic again, so I beg your pardon about it.
GRIND.
Grind is actually what I really love in this game and it does not bother me at all. What it bothers me however is how rewarding is the grinding? I can say that I am less satisfied with the reward grind gives than the past. Yet the basic reason Siptah has created was to give more silent caps to the players than the originally stated. What I mean is that they announced the thrall cap for better performance of the servers but, they made some changes that pushed the players to leave some more grinding habits use to have. For example
Flower pots and fishing traps. The amount of materials you need to fix pots is insane… Insane. There for in an official server a player will think twice before he will create a garden and most of the times only endgamers will do it, not the ones who just play the game on the surface and abandon.
2nd is fishing. There is an actual good reason fish traps reduced, fishing is annoying and frustrating, not rewarding anymore.
These silent caps I believe helped more the performance of the servers than thrall cap.
Back to the topic.
They allow lvl 3 crafters and bearers to give you the opportunity to grind less.
They made greater benches to reduce the cost of materials so grinding in this point is rewarding.
Any named crafter can create purge crafts and this reduces the grind a lot and in a way balancing the grind situation.
I can’t exactly recall how long I play this game and in how many different servers, I surely count hundreds of purges yet I found purge armorers only twice. Unfortunately it was on private pvp servers that my teammates abandoned really fast :pensive:. So the grinding issue is balanced but I don’t feel rewarded anymore, at least no so much as I use to be.
I ain’t gonna tell you how to find easy alchemical base or how to fix easy oil, these things are way much mentioned. Especially in Siptah I didn’t fix just once alchemical base, I have tens of thousands from it just opening chests and killing bearers lvl 3.

In any case, if you find my post of topic feel free to flag it, but I believe that these insane crafting numbers hide more than the obvious reasons such as grinding.
Cheers :+1:t6:

Yeah this is the number one issue with the game. There are also not many stages between “everything is a challenge” and “I’m completely op” in terms of PVE.

The grind is somewhat annoying on official servers, but let’s face it, if it was less grindy you wouldn’t have anything left to do :slight_smile:

Disclaimer: my opinion about grind does not include farming for bricks. I have never built bricks buildings on official servers and will never do that (no matter how pretty it looks like). But thx God there are alternatives to that.

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Grinding for bricks and hardened bricks isn’t that hard. But when you add the grind for shaped wood and iron or steel reinforcement, it quickly becomes a real chore.
That’s what meant @Croms_Faithful I think. Taken together all the grind to craft becomes a chore.

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Epic can be crafted on the Improved bench and everything above that. But thats why I asked, the baseline on that particular bench versus the garrison bench is noticeable and costly.

Nothing secret or subjective about my hardened leather count. I’m a solo player and I know how/where/why to farm what I need to make HL, and I do it purposefully, because I dont want to run into these costs restrictions.

I’m not attempting to be argumentative, I certainly joined this conversation on your side. But I’ve spent a lot less time gathering hides than I have hide so I’ve kinda talked myself out of it being a problem.

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To create steel now is easier than ever, all you have to do is to have 1 lvl 3 blacksmith and 2 improved benches, the one to fix iron reinforcement 1to1 and the other to make it steel reinforcement with steel fire again 1to1. The presicion carpenter bench creates shaped wood with only 5 wood. Like @OctaviousWrex said stones is the pain, hopefully they didn’t change it because people would build more and more than before, thank God. However I do enjoy very much the new speed furnace. What I do not agree is that smelters are not so necessary, pity. If your primary goal is to reach lvl 60 as fast as possible then grinding belongs to rng only not materials.

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Honestly in 5,800 hours I’ve never ground anything except exploits. The only thing that’s come close to a grind is finding salamander hatchlings. Holy moly, that job there is a harsh mistress.

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Lets discuss the actual data. 10% say it is grindy, yet 7% say

there is nothing to do.

Really?

After four years and eight months and 6,706 hours playing, I still find many things to do.

I think the majority accept the grind as part of the game. My suggestion is to have a few glasses of wine while you grind and listen to some awesome music at the same time. It works for me.

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I wouldn’t have found it disingenuous at all. After all, there’s a reason we have different crafting station tiers instead of just having the same cost without any reduction. This is part of the game’s progression system, and the progression system is one of the things that are supposed to help new players learn how to play the game.

I’ve heard people complain about the leveling system and the progression, saying that there’s no reason to have them in the game. After all, why have iron weapons at all? Why not jump straight to the endgame, especially when it’s so easy to reach level 60? Those complaints invariably miss the point that it’s easy to reach level 60 once you’re a veteran player, but all of those things that you never use in the endgame are there to guide the new players.

Therefore, it seems perfectly normal to me to talk about the grind in terms of endgame costs. Otherwise, we’re either not discussing what the real situation is, or we’re implying that we want to get rid of progression, which is a whole 'nother can of worms.

FWIW, I can contribute my side of things. Playing solo on an official server, I can easily accumulate a full chest of hardened leather after a few months. It’s either that or keep throwing away all that leather and thick leather that I get as byproduct from making tar.

This! It can get so bad, that I actually use two different verbs for different activities in the game. When I’m collecting materials, I’m “farming”. When I’m trying to get something to drop, I’m “grinding”.

This, too, hit the nail on the head. It’s not about eliminating RNG, it’s about giving players agency.

I can’t disagree with that. I’ve optimized my stone farming as much as I can, but I still experience what you say there. Usually it manifests as a broken Black Blood pick and a bunch of cursing that follows :stuck_out_tongue:

I feel like shaped wood requirements are actually not that bad, mostly because you can actually reduce the wood cost by using the appropriate carpenter’s bench. You can’t do that for bricks. As for steel reinforcements, that’s where blacksmith thralls are essential, so you don’t have to smelt steel bars from iron bars. But the crafting speed is insanely slow, even with my preferred setup with 4 blacksmith benches in parallel.

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Pretty much yes, this. I actually gave up the grind of killing the Mother Dragon for drops etc. Now when I go into the Unnamed City, it is to level my follower.
The last time I killed the giant temple snake, the chest disappeared when I went towards it. I guess I finally bottomed out RNG.

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